Citizens are invited to a presentation Saturday regarding the Ogeechee River and the possible effects of a recent chemical spill to human health.
Held at the Statesboro Regional Library from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the presentation by the Georgia Southern University Nursing Department will feature “An Exploratory Study of the Ogeechee River Chemical Spill and Subsequent Fish Kill on Human Health,” according to information from the Ogeechee Riverkeeper’s Facebook page.
The presentation will include original research by Lynsey Johnson, Danny West, Chelsea Allen, Ryan Dyson, Ben Strozzo, and Dr. Marian Tabi, PHD, RN.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper Dianna Wedincamp also will speak, addressing concerns about the river pollution. While the Ogeechee was once considered one of the state’s most pristine rivers, the Ogeechee Riverkeeper organization has been protesting pollution from various industries for years. One of those industries, King America Finishing in Dover, Screven County, was cited last year for permit violations following a chemical spill that is believed to have caused a massive fish kill.
While the actual cause of death for more than 38,000 fish was listed as columnaris, the bacterial disease is caused by environmental stress.
Test results by both private parties and the Environmental Protection Division revealed high levels of ammonia, formaldehyde and other chemicals in the river water.
The presentation will include the first research addressing human health effects possibly caused by the spill, rather than effects on wildlife.
Wedincamp also will answer questions regarding the legal/political matters and how citizens can get involved.
She met with GSU professors and biologists Tuesday night to review the research findings.
“I am in favor of this presentation,” she said. “It needs to be continued. Once this information is public record, anyone who wants to use the information (in a lawsuit regarding the river issue) can use it. It definitely won’t hurt them.”
The Ogeechee Riverkeeper Organization is currently involved in lawsuits against King America and the EPD, and private attorneys have filed class action lawsuits against the textiles industry on behalf of people who claim illness or injury due to the May 2011 chemical spill or who claim loss of use and value to property they own along the river due to the spill.
“Doctors and biologists and professors with the GSU College of Public Health will be present Saturday and people should be able to get more information on this issue,” Wedincamp said.
The presentation is free and open to the public.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.